From the outside, this was the perfect house—a 3600-square-feet, three-bedroom, five-bathroom 1930s Georgian colonial in the picturesque South Arroyo neighborhood of Pasadena. The new owners, a young creative couple with two daughters aged 3 and 6, had outgrown their previous house. The inside, however, painted a different picture. It hadn't been renovated in decades. To transform this large, dated house into a welcoming and colorful family-friendly home, the couple—co-owners of an international production company that specializes in factual, scripted branded content that spans everything from The Food Network to Animal Planet—knew they needed an extra hand.
They called on the expertise of Deborah Rhein, principal at interior design firm D.L. Rhein. "The house had not been updated in any way for a very long time and needed to be brought into the new millennium," the designer told MyDomaine. "Many of the rooms felt very heavy and dark throughout. We couldn't wait to open the space and let the sunshine spill into every room." Step inside this colorful renovation and take note of how you can infuse color into your own space.
"The architect wanted to keep to the traditional elements of the Georgian architecture, whereas our clients and our team wanted to go outside the box and take this home to the next level," Rhein says. "Ultimately, we came to an agreement on how to honor some of the classic elements of the home while still transforming it into a modern abode. The house was lacking light at its center, so we added a giant skylight over the stairwell in the entry. It's definitely one of my favorite additions to the home." One of the designer's favorite finds for the entire house is the vintage Italian green velvet chair in the entrance. "It truly made the entry sing."
To marry the worlds of old and new and highlight unique pieces from around the world from the owners' jet-setting lifestyles, the designer sourced a mix of antiques and modern finds. One of the first piece she found was the antique carved wood black cabinet in the dining room. "We stumbled upon this European beauty out on the hunt one day, and I immediately sent my client a picture with a text that said, 'I found the first piece for your new house. It's perfect.' I stored it for a year—that's how bad I wanted them to have this piece," she told us.
Above all, the designers wanted to stay true to their "clients' wants and needs. This home was a true collaboration with our clients, both of whom are creatives and needed a place to accommodate their hectic schedules and international lifestyle," says the designer. "We wanted to give them a place of calm amid the chaos. We wanted to deliver their fantasy wish list as much as possible and make this house a place to relax and continue their creativity when the moment strikes at home."
In the living room, the designers had a sofa and a daybed custom-made in a luxe blue velvet and built-in charcoal bookcases, which they filled with the owners' color-coded books.
Though the entire house was remodeled from top to bottom, the most striking transformation was in the kitchen and breakfast room. "Everything changed from appliance to cabinetry to the reclaimed wood open shelving," says Rhein. "We had a blast doing the bathrooms in bold handmade tiles, marble, and wallpaper."
"We searched all over to find unique, bespoke materials such as handmade cement tiles and reclaimed wood for the open shelving that replaced clunky cabinets in the kitchen," explains Rhein. "We chose a dark gray for all of the trims to mimic the look of the metal doors leading to the kitchen and outdoor dining room. Brass and copper accents throughout the home warmed up the space."
"We were consistent with paint colors throughout the home to turn it into a modern, unified canvas so that furniture, accents, and tile would be the stars of the show," explains Rhein. One of these pieces that the designers wanted to shine a light on was the vintage dog oil painting hung in the breakfast room. "I scored it at an estate sale. It's reminiscent of Oudry's 18th-century Painted Menagerie."
The designer painted the walls throughout in Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace and the cabinets, doors, and trims in Rough Iron. All the fixturing was installed in unlacquered brass so that it could develop a beautiful patina over time.
"I love mixing old and new," Rhein told us. "We strive to simplify peoples' homes. We love getting rid of the unnecessary clutter and leaving space to breathe so that curated pieces can be added over time that further layer the space. I want my clients to love every single thing within their home. If not, it's time to purge or update. I like to blend different eras and not make my projects too matchy or overly decorated. I want every client and their guests to feel comfortable and relaxed enough to kick back in any part of their home."
While most of the furniture in the house was sourced from scratch, the guest room furnishings were all repurposed from various rooms in their prior home. "The spindle bed was hot pink and used to be in their daughter's room," says Rhein. "We lacquered it black and it became the anchor to build on with other existing furniture. Many of the pieces were done in black and white so that they could be moved from place to place and work with various styles. Classic pieces will always fit in regardless of where they go. Turquoise chairs and benches were the perfect color to pop in the monochromatic room. The nightstands and console were in the previous master bedroom."
In the master bathroom, the designer wanted to create a spa-like experience. "Double sinks to allow the bathroom to be happily shared. We also installed a claw-foot tub looking out to the calming backyard to unwind from the world."
While the rest of the bathroom is largely calming and all-white, the shower is a dramatic statement: "White details throughout made a dramatic backdrop for the sexy black marble shower and utterly stunning brass shower fixturing," explains the designer. They installed two types of black marble mosaic tiles from Ann Sacks and brass fixtures from Waterworks.
In the kids' room, the designer wanted to create a playful space for fun and slumber. "While they are young, this room provides the sisters a communal space of their own with room for sleepovers with their cousins." The designer custom-made the bed with an IKEA hack: "We customized the panels with various removable wallpapers and added curtains made from vintage French striped linen to create a private space that felt magical and just for them."
In the girls' bathroom, the designer installed a fun, bold, handmade tile that will grow with them as they get older. "A large farmhouse sink provides plenty of room when it's time to brush those pearly whites," says Rhein. "A brass waterfall showerhead will have the kiddies begging for a shower."
Ultimately, the goal was to create a warm and inviting family home for the whole family to enjoy. "I love how inviting it is," concludes Rhein. "This home is truly form and function at its finest. You want to do anything from curl up with a good book or create a fantastic meal. This family is always hosting guests from near and far and love the European style of living inside out, where the indoors and outside flow freely between each other."